This was the first Tolstoy book I had picked up and it remains my favourite. It is all about a prostitute who is up on a murder trial and Dmitri a nobleman who is is the jury. He realizes that he knew this prostitute from years ago when she was a servant to his household and he had fallen in love with her, had an affair with her, raped her and left her as she did not have the status to marry him. When he realizes that the woman who is on trial is the same woman who had been a servant to him years ago he realizes that he is partly guilty for her being in this situation. If he had stayed with her and loved her, he could have prevented this whole situation.
He visits her in prison and talks to her, he talks to all the other prisoners and realizes their social sufferings too and comes to the realization that the aristocratic world that he lives in is a fake world ignorant to the poverty and the conditions in which the lower class people live in. He seeks to forgive himself and hopes that the woman he once loved could find a way to forgive him. This is a very spiritual book, and I think it reflects Tolstoy's spirituality and his relationship with society as he himself was an aristocrat. Apparently it was his last major work which also says something as well. I really loved this book it is so deep and compassionate, I found myself absollutely gripped and wanted Dmitri to find spiritual peace.
It is also a huge criticism on the prision conditions at the time, so there are also parts within the book which describe the most terrible conditions in which prisoners were forced to sleep under, with rats crawling all over the place, it is all in this book and I highly recommend it to anybody who is going through spiritual changes themselves as they will identitfy with the character and how he seeks for peace through trying to help others through understanding them and then inacting upon what he had learnt.